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Up and down to see the Chimera – Finike to Çirali (53/13,839, 640m)

(written by Nancy)

Interesting breakfast this morning at the business hotel – I am pretty sure I was the only female staying in the hotel and certain that I was the only female in the breakfast room in bike shorts and tattoo arm warmers.  The other fellows eating breakfast were staring at me as if I were a weird alien that landed in their midst – one even pulled the server fellow over and pointed at us and asked him something in Turkish, to which the server laughed and said something in response.  Hmmm…

We had about 20k of flat roads this morning as we worked our way out of Finike, around the Mediterranean shore and into Kumluca.  We knew there was a big climb starting just after Kumluca so when we rode by a bakery in town it seemed to be a sign from above that we should stop for a pick-me-up before we hit the big climb.  The proprietor was the best advertisement for his shop – I think he was about the size of 4 of Dave.  He obviously sampled his wares quite a bit!

The climb was long and had us in our granny gears but the gradient wasn’t too bad – it maxed out at 8% but much of it was around 5%.  It was cool out as well, which helped on the climb.  We had some good views way back down into Finike – lots of white covered greenhouses and then the sea.  Like yesterday it was a bit chilly once we got to the top

After the big climbed topped out we had about 15k or so of relatively flat road as we stayed up on top of the mountains.  There were some dark clouds above us, similar to what we had seen yesterday so we kept up a steady pace and didn’t stop too many times for pictures.  We passed the turn-off for Olympos and the turn off to Çirali was not too much further on down the road.  From the turn-off it was about 7k of downhill back down to the sea and the village of Çirali.  It was a bumpy road most of the way down with many switchbacks – that should make it easier to get back up it when we leave here, as there is only one way out of here.

We had a couple pensions noted down to look at but for such a small place this village has a surprisingly large number of pensions and hotels – in excess of 60!  We stopped at a café in the little village area for some great gozleme to fuel us during our search for a room.  We stopped at a couple pensions and hotels but like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, some were too far, too small, too weird…  Just as we reached the maximum frustration level we stopped at the Oleander Pension, which had some decent rooms, was close to the little town centre and the beach and was not overly expensive.  So we took it.

We cleaned up and headed down to the beach to take a look and so Dave could take some of his mandatory boat pictures (no, we are still not getting a boat).  We had a drink at a beachside restaurant – Dave had his first Turkish beer (Efes), which wasn’t too bad.

The big exercise tonight was a walk and hike up to the Chimera, the natural gas flames that dot the hillside outside of town.  It was about an hour walk to the base of the hill, and then another 800 meter walk up a rocky path to the flames.  It was quite a sight when we finally got up to them.  The flames just shoot out of the rock in random spots.  There are not that many of them but it is still impressive, especially to think that they have been burning for many, many years.  The flames light spontaneously when the gas escapes and hits the air.  We were sitting right near a bank of flames and all of the sudden another flame lit up at the end of them.

Apparently the original Olympic flame is thought to have come from these flames.  There is a sign at the bottom of the flames that describes a myth about a king who killed inadvertently killed his brother during a hunting expedition as was sent away in exile to Lycia.  The king of Lycia sent the exiled king to fight the Chimera, a half-man, half-animal beast.  The exiled king hit the Chimera with a lance and spread the flames around the area.  There always seems to be a myth to explain these odd things.

We had walked up to the flames while it was still light and as it started to get dark we figured it was probably a good idea to start the walk back to town.  We took our headlights with us and were thankful for them as we picked our way back down the rocky path.  It was a very dark walk back to town and thankfully there were none of those big Turkish dogs off their leash to greet us along the way!

Tomorrow the plan is to go see the ruins of Olympos, which are just a short walk away – after a proper sleep in, of course.

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8 responses to “Up and down to see the Chimera – Finike to Çirali (53/13,839, 640m)

  1. Great picture of you guys in front of the Chimeras! One web site I looked at said that the flames have been burning since the 4th century, amazing…

    • It does make you wonder how they figured out when they started?  The mythology at the site indicated a much earlier start up but lots of these old sights have similar stories.  One can only imagine a couple thousand years ago rounding a corner and seeing these things burning – you’d freak out – and probably give credit to the gods.

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  2. Amazing sight! And quite a draw for visitors! Hope they get free heat in every house!

    • Surprisingly few folks were up there.  I think the 800 meter rocky path turns off some folks, at least after dark.  I had the same thought about tapping into the gas but can you imagine doing that and screwing up the flames…

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  3. Okay, the envy is out in full force. Guess I better stop reading and do my lesson planning before I buy an airplane ticket.

  4. Cool! That’s a great picture of the two of you.

  5. Another round of great pics! I just spent the day with 17 teens. In a big yellow school bus…the pic of Nancy and the black cloud looks really good to me right now…

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